Supplier profile

Flexitarians push Paramount 21 to boost veggie offer

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Paramount 21: 'Our sprat are 100% British'
Paramount 21: 'Our sprat are 100% British'

Related tags Baltic sea

Frozen fish and vegetarian foodservice supplier Paramount 21 is preparing to boost its veggie and gluten-free offering following rising demand, the firm's chairman and director Ali Hannaford has said.

A bigger focus on vegetarian products is the result of the continued rise in consumers adopting a flexitarian diet, Hannaford told the Publican's Morning Advertiser​. 

Melted cheese and beer croquettes veggie
Veggie: Melted cheese and beer croquettes

Flexitarianism is set to rocket this year, according to figures released by research firm Mintel​ last December.

The number of people choosing to eat less meat and try more vegetarian options was likely to rise by 10% this year, figures revealed.

Meat-free dishes already account for 31% of new menu items across the eating-out sector, which shows there is a response to the rising trend.

'Promoting our veggie range'

"Veggie is the trend we're looking at because people want to be more flexible about what they eat," Hannaford said. "It's the age of the flexitarian and people are deciding they don't want to eat just [red] meat or chicken any more."

What's the difference?

Sprat and whitebait... what's in a name?

Whitebait is the traditional term for small sprat and herring. Whitebait sold these days and consumed in the UK is virtually 100% sprat, a large proportion of which come from the Baltic areas.

Sprat belongs to the Clupeidae family, which includes herrings, sprat, sardines and all have a similar texture and flavour. The main difference between them all is size.

  • Herring: up to 40cm
  • Sardine up to 25cm
  • Sprat: up to 16cm
  • Whitebait: up to 6–8cm

Fish is likely to become a bigger option for consumer as more move away from meat-heavy diets, she explained.

As a result, the firm had not only been working on releasing new vegetarian products, but also new fish products. The relaunch of a sprat fillet formed part of this, she said.

The sprats used to make the product are fished from the south-west coast and are filleted and coated in a crispy crumb by Paramount. In the kitchen they take just two to three minutes to cook from frozen.

As the fish are caught in the UK by British fisherman and filleted at the firm's Devon factory, they can be labelled as 'British' as well as 'West Country' on the menu.

Alternative to whitebait

"They're a good alternative to whitebait - sometimes people don't like to eat whole fish," explains Hannaford.

"Also, with whitebait, the majority of it isn't British because it mostly comes from the Baltics. The sprats that we fish in the west are bigger and measure between 10-12cm. They are too big to eat whole so are perfect as a fillet and have a nice oily taste, and are a good alternative to whitebait."

As well as pushing further into the flexitarian marketspace, Paramount 21 is aiming to produce more gluten-free products this year, revealed Hannaford.

There were plans to move more of the factory over to a specialist gluten-free only operation, she said.

"Gluten-free is also becoming bigger for us and we're in the process of moving half of the factory over to gluten-free.

Related news

Show more